Today’s post is a serious one – and an inspirational one I hope. If you read nothing else today, I am asking that you take the time to read this, because it’s about mental health, and three friends of mine who are doing their best to make a difference.
Still got you? Excellent. Let me introduce you to three very special ladies then. Kezzy, Loz and Kell Priest are part of my extended Grafton running family and although I may not see them very often, they manage to inspire me from afar every day with their passion, dedication, kindness and generosity.
A few years ago, Kerry lost her youngest brother to suicide, and since then she – and the entire Priest clan – have dedicated themselves to raising awareness of mood disorders, what to look out for and how we can help.
Between them they’ve got around 20 City2Surfs under their belt, and this year they’ve once again entered as Gold Charity Runners, teaming up with the Black Dog Institute, a world leader in the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of mood disorders like depression and bipolar disorder.
One in five Australians are affected by mental illness every year and the Black Dog Institute is dedicated to improving the lives of these people (and their friends and family) through research, clinical expertise and education.
And to do this, they need funding.
Enter the Priests! So far their 2014 C2S fundraising efforts total over $5,000 but I reckon we can help them push that number higher. I’m going to provide details for their fundraising pages at the bottom of this post, but first I want to give you a little background on each of these fabulous women, and share the chat I had with Kez on what Black Dog Institute has taught her.
Name: Lauren Priest (Loz, Dory)
Favourite thing about your sister and mum? Their generosity and wicked sense of humour!
How many years have you run the C2S? This year is my 5th.
Favourite C2S memory? Celebrating after the run in Bondi.
Advice for first-timers? Just enjoy it! Have a look around as you are running, there is so much to see!
Name: Kelly Priest (Kell, Talbi)
Favourite thing about your sister and mum? Laughs
How many years have you run the C2S? 4th this year.
Favourite C2S memory? The after party.
Advice for first-timers? Enjoy it, try to absorb all the amazing things you will see.
Name: Kerry Priest (Kez, Grammy)
What is your favourite thing about your daughters? Their truly compassionate, dedicated, committed, supportive and fun loving natures.
How many years have you run the C2S? 11
Favourite C2S memory? Finishing and sharing the stories with fellow runners.
Advice for first-timers? Enjoy every step, C2S to me is the friendliest community run; smile and enjoy the experience.
MY CHAT WITH KERRY
Why are you running for Black Dog?
After the death of Grant, my youngest brother, I felt useless and wanted to promote awareness of mental health. If someone notices my fundraising page, reads your blog or investigates the institute through my promotion I feel I have achieved something in a bid to prevent another family from the devastation of losing a loved one to suicide.
What was your favourite thing about your brother?
Grant was a quiet achiever, very skilled with his hands. A very loving husband, father, son and brother.
What is the most important/useful thing you have learnt since becoming involved with Black Dog Institute?
No situation is impossible, there is always hope. Organisations such as Black Dog Institute are there for the community – mental health is a complex topic but with continuing research and promotion the stigma associated with sufferers is shifting.
Where does your fundraising money go?
The money goes directly to the Black Dog Institute; this enables further research to be carried out plus programs to be implemented.
Do you have any advice for the family/friends of people who suffer from mood disorders?
The most important thing to remember is that there is help out there. If you are concerned for a loved one – or yourself – and feel you are not being heard please scream at the top of your lungs for help, never give up.
Anything else you want to add?
Organisations such as Black Dog Institute, Beyond Blue, Life Line, Wesley Mission, Headspace etc are all fantastic and deserve our consideration and support.
If you are in a position to donate – whether it’s $5 or $5mil (imagine!) please do so. Sharing the post is also much appreciated. The most important thing we want to do is open up a conversation about mental health – the less isolated people feel, the more likely they are to seek help.
A FINAL NOTE FROM LGF
Firstly, thanks for making it this far! Starting a dialogue about mental health is something I feel very strongly about, and the more we can do to make it a less ‘taboo’ topic, the better. I dealt with anxiety in my early 20s, and while that doesn’t make me an expert – nor do I think I understand what it must feel like to wake up every day with a more debilitating disorder – it has given me another perspective on life, an appreciation for the good times, and the desire for everyone to understand what it feels like to be truly happy.
So whether you’re running, walking or crawling the City2Surf, whether you’ll be a spectator, you’re in another state or you’ve never even hear of this crazy race, let’s get behind Kez, Loz and Kel and help them honour the memory of their much-loved uncle and brother, Grant. Because noone should ever feel that alone.
Lots of love Team.
p.s If you or someone you know is suffering from a mood disorder, don’t be afraid to ask for help. You can also call Beyond Blue, Lifeline or one of the other services Kerry mentioned. The most important thing to remember is that you are not alone.